AI has made inroads into all sectors in the UAE, say experts

Tech leaders share thoughts on role of artificial intelligence in resolving human issues at forum



Dr. Ayesha Al Mutawa, director strategy & excellence, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services; Hussain Al Fardan, Head of Innovation Centre, Strategy & Corporate Excellence, Dubai Customs; Siddhartha Bhatia, Regional Vice President & General Manager - Middle East & Turkey at Dataiku and Victoria Zagorsky, Research, Dubai Future Foundation. at Artelligence 2022. KT Photo by M. Sajjad
Dr. Ayesha Al Mutawa, director strategy & excellence, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services; Hussain Al Fardan, Head of Innovation Centre, Strategy & Corporate Excellence, Dubai Customs; Siddhartha Bhatia, Regional Vice President & General Manager - Middle East & Turkey at Dataiku and Victoria Zagorsky, Research, Dubai Future Foundation. at Artelligence 2022. KT Photo by M. Sajjad
by

Dhanusha Gokulan

Published: Tue 20 Sep 2022, 8:40 PM

Last updated: Wed 21 Sep 2022, 12:02 AM

From governance to banking and from education to healthcare and retail, artificial intelligence (AI) has made inroads into almost all sectors across the UAE, digital experts in various fields said at an event in Dubai on Tuesday.

Today, there are computing systems that read and document complex documents, give medical advice, generate award-winning art pieces, and self-drive cars and trucks on roads shared with humans.

Tech leaders discussed the use of AI and the importance of governance to cope with the exponential growth at the 5th edition of the artificial intelligence (AI) forum - 'Artelligence'.

Powered by Khaleej Times, the one-day forum saw participation from top government and private sector technology leaders, who shared their thoughts on the invaluable role of AI in resolving human issues.

Use of AI by the government of UAE

Musab Obaid AlHammadi, project manager for the research and infrastructure section, AI Office under the Prime Minister's Office. KT Photo by M. Sajjad
Musab Obaid AlHammadi, project manager for the research and infrastructure section, AI Office under the Prime Minister's Office. KT Photo by M. Sajjad

Musab Obaid Al Hammadi, project manager for the research and infrastructure section, AI Office under the Prime Minister's Office, said during a keynote that the UAE had realised the importance of AI in 2017 when the world’s first Minister of State Omar Sultan Al Olama for the sector was appointed by the UAE leadership. “One of the main enablers for AI is the availability and accessibility of quality data,” said Hammadi.

He said, “The government is also in the process of establishing the UAE, which will act as the official data regulator.”

Al Hammadi added, “Another interesting platform that the government created to support emerging technologies is the Regulation Lab.” Through this lab, and in coordination with the AI Office and the Ministry of Interior, Tesla was able to apply got a temporary permit to operate its self-driving cars in the country,” he stated.

Many government departments have also begun using AI in their day-to-day functionalities. Hussain Al Fardan, head of the innovation center, Dubai Customs, explained, “A couple of years ago, a company from the UK helped us see the real challenges within Dubai Customs. All companies in Dubai are our clients; we have vast data. We wanted to make ‘ecoverse’ alive, and fortunately, we could do so before the pandemic. ‘Ecoverse’ is a platform that helped us remotely complete all Dubai Customs operations.”

Al Fardan said one of the significant challenges Dubai Customs faced during the pandemic was the management of people.

Al Fardan said, “AI is an incredible tool that can have wonderful capabilities if used right. Many people here (UAE) think AI comes from God, but that’s not the case. AI is man-made, and it can solve complex problems, especially for companies with large data sets.”

Dr Ayesha Al Mutawa, director of strategy and excellence, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services, said, “We consider ourselves the future government. AI comes as part of a revolution. It is a part of the human process of revolution. We are in the fourth industrial revolution and at the cusp of a new revolution post-pandemic. We can connect with people in very remote places, providing them with technologically advanced solutions, and AI has made it possible.”

The regulatory ecosystem and mindset need to change. “We need to modernize governance to enable innovation adoption while protecting the confidentiality and human rights,” recommended Al Mutawa.

The speakers also discussed the use of AI in the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the capabilities of the UAE Genetic Diseases Association at the forum. Meera AlShaikh, director of smart services, RTA, “Self-driving transport has been a goal for Dubai for a long period, and it is slowly becoming a reality. While significant development has been on this front, challenges such as safety and legislation self-driving transportation remain.”

Dr Ayesha stated, “Governments need to act immediately. As individuals, we need to unlearn, re-learn, and re-skill individuals. The UAE government is very disruptive; we are trying to adopt more advanced technologies, and the people need to be ready to make that transition happen. We need to accelerate the adoption of AI.”

KT Photo by M. Sajjad
KT Photo by M. Sajjad

Cizar Abughazaleh, CEO of Action To Action Robotics, said: “The UAE’s adoption of technology is outstanding across the economy as it has helped the nation to be a world leader. We are addressing some challenges where AI and robotics have to integrated and our company is at forefront to solve the same.”

Action To Action Robotics, which has operations in Singapore and New Zealand, is actively working with government entities in the UAE. The company is currently involved with hospitality and health sector.

AI is not the enemy

Meanwhile, private companies have begun assisting governments and other private entities in setting up AI infrastructure in their firms while stressing the need for a more collaborative environment. Siddhartha Bhatia, regional vice-president and general manager, Middle East and Turkey at Dataiku, “From travel and transport to healthcare and education, AI can impact every sector. We can start scaling AI by having a collaborative environment that is diverse and willing to work together. Embrace a culture of experimentation.”

An artwork created by Artificial Intelligence won an art competition recently. Paulo Hamilton, managing director of MENA, Ogilvy Consulting, stated, “We are at the cusp of a revolution. This is not about some people losing their jobs; it is about people doing things differently. AI is enabling a whole new way of creativity.”

Mohammed Al-Jallad, Chief Technology Officer UK, Ireland, Middle East Africa, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said, "HPE is supporting governments, some of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the world, universities, space exploration projects, and healthcare providers to embrace data-first modernisation.”

AI and the future of health and Pharma

Speaking about the benefits of using AI in healthcare, Mona Al Ali, head of the health information management section of Dubai Health Authority, said, “The benefit of using AI in patient monitoring is immense. Remote monitoring is working well with tele health. We can see that now healthcare providers are motivated to implement remote patient monitoring.”

Dr Kalthoom Alblooshi, chief innovation officer of Emirates Health Services, said, “We should keep the patient at the centre when it comes to the utilisation of AI and technology in healthcare. We should also overcome the gap between healthcare workers and technology.”

Dr Kalthoom said, “No healthcare provider will resist it once they realize the benefits of adopting technology for the patient. Moreover, there is a fear that AI will replace the human workforce. However, that is not the case; there will be different jobs available once we adopt AI in the healthcare sector.”

Ahmad Mourad, senior director, EMEA strategic solutions experimentation, Johnson and Johnson, “We are leveraging AI in the supply chain, inventory management, and operations and executions in the healthcare ecosystem. HealthCare is benefitting from AI and machine learning and vice versa.”

He added, “We need to be careful and realistic on how we approach AI. The objective of AI is not to replace humans, but to figure out how it would be useful to humans.”

Retail 2.0

In the retail sector, Sheridan Moodley, group chief information and technology officer, Masafi, said, “For every retailer, the objective is to offer the customer an incredible shopping experience. Technology needs to be applied at every touch point of the journey to achieve this. Technology such as digital signage leads to tailored experiences for the customer.”

Tomasz Mazur, head of digital technology and delivery, Chalhoub Group, said, “Covid changed a lot in the way we work. The group invested heavily into data scientists, engineering, and analysts during the pandemic, and it is good to see companies are investing in data science.”

Youth Innovation Roadshow Middle East

The first Youth Innovation Roadshow Middle East was also held on the forum's sidelines, giving young people the opportunity to discuss innovative projects and propose new ideas to be implemented within the ecosystem of the UAE.

The platform was dedicated to youth passionate about innovation. It will be part of the efforts to support Arab youth and bridge the skills gap by providing them with an opportunity to educate themselves regarding the latest trends in technology and innovation.

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